Editor’s Note: This article was written by Dan Campana and reposted courtesy of Ten Two News.
Twelve years after the Kane County SWAT team formed a tactical medical support group to assist on scene, the team has taken another step forward in providing immediate care to officers, civilians and others who might be injured during SWAT activities.
It started about two years ago with acquiring a surplus armored vehicle at no cost to the Kane County Sheriff’s Office — and, in turn, local taxpayers. Since then, volunteer paramedics and doctors in the community worked to outfit the vehicle to bring it up to advanced life support standards and to get the necessary licensing from the Illinois Department of Public Health, according to Kane County Sgt. David Wolf, the SWAT leader.
In February, the Tactical Emergency Medical Support rescue vehicle passed IDPH inspection to be certified as an ALS non-transport ambulance. It will be staffed by a TEMS group consisting of two surgeons, one emergency department doctor, a physician’s assistant and two paramedics, all of whom volunteer their time to SWAT.
For Wolf, this unique vehicle creates an opportunity to safely get medical personnel as close to the action as possible to render aid as quickly as possible.
“I wanted to make sure our team and the public is taken care of,” Wolf said. “My ultimate goal was to get paramedics behind some armor. We want to make sure we’re taking care of the people who are taking care of us.”
Although paramedic support has been part of TEMS for some time, Wolf mentioned instances over the years — such as the 2016 ambush of officers in Dallas — during which officers were attacked as they attempted to help rescue fellow officers or others who were injured.
“Medical personnel in the ambulance were kept at bay because it was an active dangerous situation. Traditionally, paramedics are taught they cannot administer care for a patient until their safety as a care provider is guaranteed,” Wolf explained.
Evan Darger is a career firefighter/paramedic with the North Aurora Fire Protection District, a local paramedic instructor and a SWAT volunteer for three years. He said the new vehicle will save time that is crucial to helping someone injured during hostile situations, such as shootings.
“The earlier you can get care to the victim, the better the prognosis,” Darger explained. “I want to be able to get in there.”
Previously, Kane County SWAT used a donated bank truck for medical personnel. The TEMS rescue vehicle can handle varying terrain and is expected to be activate whenever SWAT is in action, whether on a high-risk warrant, barricade situation or during training exercises.
“We plan on rolling it every time our team goes out — anytime our medics are called — even for training,” Wolf said.
Both Wolf and Darger credit community support for getting the vehicle to this point. SWAT members worked with local business owners, such as T&L Manufacturing and Global Power & Construction to make the necessary repairs and raise money for needed equipment. The volunteer medical staff also worked with Rush Copley Medical Center to get some of the medical supplies donated.
“It really was an example of getting the community together,” Darger said.
Wolf is simply happy to have it all in place.
“With this vehicle and the volunteer medical staff, medical service can be provided much quicker and in much worse conditions than ever before,” he offered. “It’s a nice security blanket when we go out.”